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The ghettoization of persons with severe mental illnesses

Janet Laura Stewart (School of Physical and Occupational Therapy, McGill University, Montreal, Canada)

Mental Health and Social Inclusion

ISSN: 2042-8308

Article publication date: 18 December 2018

Issue publication date: 11 February 2019

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to outline the reflections of a person with lived experience of a severe mental illness (SMI) and former peer support worker in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, who has also worked for seven years in mental health research. It describes a tendency of resources and services to create ghettos of people with SMIs by failing to support the integration of people with SMIs into the community at large or in exploring options for meaningful, fulfilling occupation, reinforcing social exclusion and ghettoization.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper shows a reflective and narrative account of personal experiences and observations of the ghettoizing tendency in mental health services.

Findings

Mental healthcare professionals tend to support people with SMIs in engaging activities within resources for the mentally ill, and not in carrying out activities in the community at large. The range of activities offered is limited, an obstacle to finding meaningful, fulfilling occupation. Harmful psychological effects include self-stigma, low self-esteem and a sense of marginalization, generating a ghettoized mentality. The difficulties encountered in an effort to leave the mental health ghetto are touched on with examples of how to overcome them.

Practical implications

The need for professional support for social integration of people with SMIs is identified, which could ultimately favor social inclusion of people with SMIs.

Originality/value

It is written from the perspective of a user and provider of mental health services, who also has seven years’ experience in mental health research.

Keywords

Citation

Stewart, J.L. (2019), "The ghettoization of persons with severe mental illnesses", Mental Health and Social Inclusion, Vol. 23 No. 1, pp. 53-57. https://doi.org/10.1108/MHSI-10-2018-0036

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2018, Emerald Publishing Limited